Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin

Common Reedbuck/ Southern Reedbuck

Redunca arundimum


The southern reedbuck is the largest of three species of reedbuck. Males tend to be larger than females weighing 68 kg while females weigh about 48 kg. Only male reedbuck have ridged horns growing to 30-45 cm, forming a “V” pointing backwards and gently curving upward and extending at the tip. This species can grow to 134-167 cm in length. Reedbuck can be seen with a variety of colors, from a light-yellowish-brown to gray-brown coat. White markings are seen on the underside, chin, and forming white eye rings around the eyes while light tan streaks occur on the sides of the head. The forelegs have white and black markings, the bushy tail has a white underside.


This species can be found across south central Africa in southern Congo and southern Tanzania, throughout Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambiue, Zimbabwe, and the northern part of South Africa. Reedbucks prefer marshy habitats  with tall grasses, such as moister parts of the savanna but the northern limit of the range for this species occurs on the edge of the Miombo woodlands. This species can also be found seasonally along flooded valleys near the Ugala Malayasari River.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Southern reedbucks are herbivores, consuming only vegetation. The diet of this species consists of grasses, forbs, and sedges. Southern reedbucks only consume grasses which are shorter than their body, preferring young grasses, and tender shoots of reeds. During the winter months only leaves are consumed because the nutritional value of grasses is reduced. The southern reedbuck digests vegetation by foregut fermentation; ruminating vegetation for a few minutes to an hour after grazing. This species is very dependent on water availability, drinking at least once a day.


Reedbuck breed throughout the year with a peak between December and May. Females attract males by performing a dance of long, lingering jumps with their tail curved upward, called pronking. Pronking produces a popping noise because it releases scented air from inguinal pockets. Male reedbucks are defensive towards other males when in courtship with a female. One young is produced 7-8 months after mating. Young females from the previous year are driven off by their mothers when they are ready to mate with a male but are able to remain with the herd until their second year. Young males are able to remain with the herd until adulthood when they establish their own territory. Female young reach sexual maturity after 2 years while males reach sexual maturity after 3 years.

Months and Times of Activity

Southern reedbucks are mostly nocturnal, being active mostly at night, but are seen grazing midday during the dry season. This species is semi-gregarious (traveling in social groups); territories are formed, which they defend singly or in pairs and small family groups during the wet season, when food is abundant. Winter months are spent in pairs, forming temporary aggregations, during the dry season when food and water are scarce.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

  • Reedbucks use inguinal glands to mark territories with scent landmarks. Horning ins also used as a landmark, which involves a male rubbing his horns and head across vegetation, soil and shrubs within the territory.
  • Loud whistles are emitted by expelling air through the nostrils when southern reedbucks are surprised, afraid, or greeting one another.
  • To read legends featuring this animal go to:
  • Children’s book featuring this animal: The Antelope Who Loved Cantaloupe by Celeste Marie Halata


Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2014. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed at